Stefan Grand Prix owner, Zoran Stefanovic, is still hopeful of gaining entry to the 2010 Formula One World Championship, despite the squad still not receiving a formal invitation from the FIA or the team having tested a car. However, despite time running out with the Bahrain Grand Prix rapidly approaching, Stefanovic is determined to press ahead with preparations to the ex-Toyota chassis he is using. The Serbian businessman has also suggested that Williams refugee Kazuki Nakajima has been signed and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is close to a deal.
Stefanovic is hoping to pick up an entry to the championship should one of the existing squads fail to make the cut. Of the four new teams – Lotus, Virgin, USF1 and Campos Meta – the former two are certain to be racing as they have been participating in the group tests in Spain these past two weeks. Campos Meta have experienced difficulties, but were very recently taken over by Jose Ramon Carabante who immediately placed ex-Midland/Spyker team boss Colin Kolles in charge of the outfit.
Elsewhere, USF1 have been reported to have hit a brick wall and Ken Anderson has stated the team may miss not only the opening round in Bahrain, but the following three races in Australia, Malaysia and China, only arriving in the sport for the start of the European leg in Barcelona. Autosport have learned that the FIA are visiting the team’s headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina to assess the viability of the squad’s entry.
Currently it would appear from the outside that Stefan Grand Prix are perhaps further along their programme than USF1, which for the sport would be better as having a guaranteed thirteen teams on the grid is better than twelve. However, to lose USF1 would be a great shame, the American outfit having looked to have been a welcome addition to the sport, with their promises of opening up to the fans and allowing followers to get closer to team than their rivals permit.
With Stefan Grand Prix though, we have a team who are using Toyota’s TF110 chassis that was in development last year prior to the motor manufacturer’s withdrawal, and although the squad hasn’t tested, they are boasting they could be ready for Bahrain, assuming Bridgestone release 2010-spec. tyres for testing purposes. Stefanovic had planned to test the car in Portimao this week but Formula One’s sole tyre supplier only released rubber to those teams who are on the official entry list. The test was therefore abandoned.
Definitely, we are waiting for something to happen because the time is very short and the deadline for Bahrain is approaching
If you are going to Bahrain you have to be packed by next Wednesday [03/03/09] and we think we will be able to reach something by then. Zoran Stefanovic.
Stefanovic believes his team’s involvement in Formula One would be very beneficial to both his home country of Serbia and to the sport itself. Zoran says he has the support of Bernie Ecclestone, who prefers those who actually do as opposed to just talk. This mantra, Stefanovic believes, will ensure his team’s place on the Bahrain grid next month.
I’ve been involved in engineering in the last five years and I’ve been interested in Formula One for a long time. I think Bernie supports everyone and I think he supports us because we are pushing for it. We are working, not talking.
The impact will be huge and a lot of people in Serbia don’t realise that yet. The positive image of Serbia being a part of Formula One is something any country would wish for, so it’s a plus one way or another. Also, it’s a huge opportunity to get into high-tech business. Zoran Stefanovic.
However, it should be noted that this is not the first time Zoran Stefanovic has attempted to enter the sport, and it isn’t as though the Serbian hasn’t ruffled a few FIA feathers in the past. Stefanovic had planned on purchasing the cars developed (and I use that word lightly) by Lola ahead of their failed attempt at competing in Formula One in 1997.
Zoran also blew the lid on the FIA’s selection process earlier in 2009, going as far as complaining to the European Commission that the governing body had told new teams they have to use Cosworth’s V8 engine plant. This is despite Stefan Grand Prix having the ability to build and use their own engines. And perhaps adding to the FIA’s list of reasons as to why Stefanovic may not get on the 2010 grid, photos showing former-McLaren employee and disgraced designer Mike Coughlan in the team’s headquarters were released on the team’s website.
For the moment at least, Stefan Grand Prix’s entry to the 2010 world championship hangs with USF1 and their preparations. If Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor can convince the FIA to allow them to miss the opening rounds, then this may continue to put Stefan Grand Prix on the sidelines. However, if the FIA can be convinced of Stefanovic’s burning desire to enter as well as his actual ability to enter, then there may be a late change before the team’s pack their equipment for the first race of the season.
Image © StefanGP.